REGRETS?

I regret telling the officer, “I have a license to speed.”

My Way” was playing on the radio this morning. Everyone should know the tune. It ends with the lyrics, “I did it my way!”

My favorite line in Frank Sinatra’s song is,

Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.”

I can relate to that but in a different fashion.

Regrets? I’ve had many. But then again, too many to remember!”

I’ve read a bit on Frank Sinatra’s personal life and it seems he should have more regrets than he claims. Like me, perhaps he forgot some along the way?

My first memorable regret deals with winding my grandparent’s prized clock until it popped. I held that secret for many years. I’m sure they knew who did it. I was around five years old.

I regret trying to take several toys from a daycare stuffed down my shirt. I was caught and mom was embarrassed.

I regret calling some poor kid in daycare,

“Egghead.”

I regret daring my brother that he couldn’t shoot out a street light with his BB gun. It was obvious who did it because the light was in front of our Selma, Alabama trailer home. He paid the ultimate price for such on account of me. Jim’s butt probably still hurts from the spanking.

I regret touching a stove top just to see if it was hot.

I regret not remembering more stories that my grandparents told me. Unfortunately, they took that part of family history with them.

I regret passing a note my first year in high school and then having it confiscated by the teacher. Having him read out loud that I wanted to start a treasure finding club was most embarrassing to me.

I regret picking up the assistant manager of a store I worked for and tossing him into a pile of cardboard boxes. Alan wasn’t hurt but I suffered the consequences for my misguided actions. I was relieved of my duties as day stocker and assigned to nights.

I regret not becoming a fireman after I’d passed all the tests. I elected not to pursue this career because my best friend, Jeff Thimsen, was turned down for wearing glasses. Who knows, although highly unlikely, there’s a slim chance I might’ve ended up on one of those firemen calendars?

I regret not having told my parents that I loved them more often.

I regret telling the officer,

“I have a license to speed.”

I regret selling my 1968 Dodge Charger.

I regret listening to a financial adviser who warned me not to buy Chrysler stock at $5.00 a share. Two years later it was $30.00 and eventually split.

I regret pushing the watercraft lever into reverse while doing 50 just to see what would happen.

I regret not spending more time with my children before they left home.

I regret not purchasing additional, Bill O’Reilly, USA STRONG tee-shirts. They no longer make them.

Most of all, I regret doing things my way when I should’ve done them God’s way.

GAS-O-LINE

“The lesson here, so eas’ly seen.”

A friend told me,

avoid the cough.

Clean your iPhone.

Make sure it’s off!

I looked around,

and found some gas.

With cloth in hand,

began the task.

The fumes were bad.

They filled the room.

When all at once,

there came a boom.

“Oh no!” I screamed.

The switch was on.

That call from Paul,

destroyed my home!

The lesson here,

so eas’ly seen.

If you must clean,

avoid gas-o-line!

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE?

“No one complained until a Greta Thunberg type noticed a Piggly Wiggly bag littering her front yard.”

Great Wall of China

I’ve had plenty of time these past several weeks to look back on my life. Part of that reflection has to do with revisiting illogical dilemmas I’ve encountered along the way.

As I sit with a glass of iced tea in hand, watching ice cubes grow smaller, I think to myself: Frozen water has a tendency to do that. Ice has been melting long before I was born. No amount of scowl on environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s face will stop it from doing so. What is it with these people? Their intentions are good, yet folks with misguided ambitions to save the world sometimes do more harm than good.

I was doing quite well in grade school where simple arithmetic is concerned. Six plus six equals twelve. Unfortunately, when we moved to another state, “New Math” was the rave. It was strange stuff to me. I never did catch on and my grades suffered. I wasn’t the only student having problems. The person responsible for new math is most likely a Greta Thunberg type. Their goal in life is to reinvent the wheel. They’ll never understand the logic of,

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!”

Grocery bags. My pet peeve. Paper grocery sacks were used for many years. Billions of school books were covered with the brown paper to protect them from damage. Greta Thunberg environmentalists view them as a sin against Mother Earth. Tree huggers from around the globe eventually cried out,

“Too many trees are being murdered!”

So we changed to plastic bags. No one complained until a Greta Thunberg archetype noticed a Piggly Wiggly bag littering her front yard. It was smothering a pink petunia. Green activists took notice and soon a war cry was heard,

Plastic grocery bags are killing the environment!”

Reusable cloth bags were introduced as the wave of the future. Trees would no longer be slain and no more flowers or grass would be cloaked in petroleum based plastic. Greta Grunberg types patted themselves on the back believing indeed, they’d reinvented the wheel where bagging groceries is concerned.

Research now proves that sponge-like cloth grocery bags spread germs and disease like wildfire. The return of paper and plastic is inevitable. San Francisco is already doing so. Hopefully other towns and cities follow suit. I’ve yet to hear an epitome of Greta Thunberg say,

“We made a mistake!”

Our country needs to be protected from illegal aliens crossing the border. Concrete and steel walls, in conjunction with electronic surveillance devices work well for such. The ‘Great Wall of China’ is solid proof. Greta Thunberg liberals believe in open borders.

“Come on in the water’s fine!”

This ideology seems to be rapidly changing as the Covid-19 virus gains momentum. You don’t hear immigration protesters moaning so much these days about keeping illegals out.

After the Covid-19 dilemma ends will Greta Thunberg wannabes see the ill of their ways? Is it possible they’ll have a different perspective on how things should be done in the United States, and other countries?

The answer is,

“No.”

Where the trough of logic is concerned, these people refuse to partake of it.

Greta Thunberg

OLD AGE STAGE

“Many young people associate old age with decreased mental capacity. Why disappoint them!”

“Crazy Old Man” – no that’s not me 🙂

I’m close to reaching a significant milestone in my life. In several days I turn 66. That means I’ll leave middle-age status behind. I don’t mind being labeled as middle aged. It has a good ring to it. Unfortunately, old-age status is next in line. There will be no celebration.

At 65, I was forced by higher powers to start receiving Medicare. I refer to it as Medi-No-Care. I’m still filling out forms. Seasoned Medicare recipients tell me the paperwork is endless. Why do they do this to retired people? It’s not like we don’t have better things to do.

The first person I recall being referred to as old man was, “Old Man Jones”. This gentleman owned a trailer park in Selma, Alabama. Many adults called him that including my parents. I suppose he had a first name but to my knowledge it was never used. Being taught to respect our elders, my brother and I were instructed to call him, Mr. Jones.

Being referred to as Old Man Hankins doesn’t bother me. I’ll get use to it. I’ve been called far worse. “Mr. Hankie” was one such name from my work days. It was not used out of hate, but out of humor. I laughed along with them. Some will recognize this name from the cartoon series, South Park.

According to an article in an Arizona newspaper, men are considered old at age 66. Women don’t reach that plateau until 72. My wife says that’s because women live longer.

I’ve often thought of what benefits lie in reaching old man status. Of course, ‘senior citizen discount’ ranks right up there. I’ve been getting that perk going back some 10 years; even longer. It seems odd that I received senior citizen discounts as a middle aged man?

The other day I was pulled over for speeding. The officer asked if I knew how fast I was going.

Ninety?”, I politely answered.

I clocked you at 89.” was his stern reply.

The policeman wanted to see registration and proof of insurance. I opened our packed-full-of-clutter glove box as he carefully watched through the door window. Joleen began pulling out expired registration after expired registration, one at a time, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, until she finally found the right one.

When she began repeating the same routine with insurance cards he informed her he’d be right back. Unbeknownst to the fellow, we had one for every year going back to 2009. I’d meant to toss the expired cards but never got around to it.

As she continued to search the state trooper walked to his vehicle. A few seconds later he returned with an official looking paper. It was a warning. He smiled before advising me to slow down. I believe we were given a break only because he saw us as bumbling seniors.

As we wheeled back on the road I said to Joleen,

Why didn’t this happen when I was younger?”

It seems whenever I venture to the grocery store I’m always asked if I need help. This began a couple of years ago. I’ve never accepted the offer but perhaps I should. With plans on doing some painting around the house I could use an extra hand.

Reaching old age status means I can intentionally say stupid things and get away with such. Many young people associate old age with decreased mental capacity. Why disappoint them!

The other morning in a restaurant, with straight face, I mentioned to our server that it looked like rain. Gazing out the window she saw exactly what I did; perfectly blue skies. The gal nodded and agreed with me probably thinking I had lost it.

I’ll take this old age badge as far as I possibly can. Tax breaks, discounts, coupons, deals, free meals, desserts, pencils, pocket protectors, and all other precious gratuities will be gladly accepted. I’m sure Old Man Jones would’ve done the same.

After old age there’s one more status to be had. I rarely mention it for obvious reasons. Dearly-departed status does not excite me at all.

With God leading the way, I plan on riding the “Old Age Stage” ’til its wheels fall off!

“Old Age Stage”

A NEW THIMBLE

“My metal detector screamed like a wounded banshee indicating something of value was in the ground.”

Sutphen Mill Church

My interest in thimbles goes back to my childhood years. Grandma Hankins taught me to sew and embroider, and her thimble was essential in pushing needle through cloth. I found it intriguing to play with as well.

Placing a metal cone on my puny finger was as close to being a robot as I’d get. The device made a distinct clicking sound when tapped on wood. That was painfully annoying to those around me, especially mom. Most likely back then, I wished grandma had nine more of the toys.

These days I view a thimble (when turned upside down) as a miniature vase. Add some tiny flowers and it’d look great sitting in an oak curio cabinet. I might’ve collected thimbles at an early age had it not been for my male friends. It’s easy to imagine the harsh words they would’ve had if I asked,

Would you like to see my thimble collection?”

Because of such I stuck to rocks, comic books, marbles, coins, and other valuables that normal guys are suppose to own.

The origin of the thimble goes way back. Archaeologists have discovered crude sewing tools used by cavemen in various locations. Their archaic thimbles made of stone or shell were utilized to sew leather together. Animal hide clothing was extremely popular back then. The thimbles of today were invented around 1695 in England. They were originally called a thumble.

Many Victorian era thimbles are ornate with intricate designs and inlaid jewels. Initials of owners were exquisitely engraved into soft metal. Thimbles were extremely popular as gifts, especially to young women about to marry. Solid gold and silver thimbles were not uncommon. Today these small antiques made of precious metal bring a premium among collectors.

The thimble that my mother owned was not fancy. It was not manufactured of gold or silver. The plain and simplistic device appears to be common aluminum. Regardless of that, she used it many years without begging dad for a newer shiny model.

My wife’s thimble is much the same as mom’s. Joleen’s owned the same one for 48 years. Her parents gave it to her, including a Singer sewing machine, as high school graduation presents. I presented her with a wood and cloth sewing basket for our Christmas four years before we married. She still has it.

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Sutphen Mill Christian Church is located near Chapman, Kansas. The church began services around 1872, and their small sanctuary with distinct steeple has been added to over the years. My wife’s dad and mom were married there in 1952. I first saw the place in 1975. Joleen and I attend services at Sutphen Mill whenever we’re visiting.

In 1976, I purchased a metal detector in Alaska to be used in exploring old Kansas home sites while on vacation. On my second trip to The Sunflower State, I was able to put it to good use. Driving to an old abandoned farm called the “Wackly Place”, the property was owned by Joleen’s Uncle Jay & Aunt Wava Schweitzer. They were kind enough to let me dig around to my heart’s content. At that time the Wackly’s were long gone with their limestone house and barn reduced to rubble.

I slowly moved about the grassy perimeter getting all kinds of beeps with my machine. Most if not all hits turned out to be rusty cans and metal. Hot, sweaty, and tired, I was ready to call it quits until a signal from my detector rang out stronger than any other. Digging down about 6-inches, I uncovered a glass piggy bank with metal lid. After some cleaning in soap and water the lid finally came free. It was thin and delicate from all the rust.

Inside were several Kansas gas ration tokens dating back to WWII. The tokens are not extremely valuable yet the history behind them is. The Wackly brothers owned a wheat harvest business during this war. Fuel to keep their operation going would’ve been as valuable as gold. It’s likely the piggy bank and tokens belonged to them. How these items came to be buried will always remain a mystery.

In 2017, Joleen and I made another trip to Kansas to see her mother and brother. Near the top of my list on things to do, I wanted to metal detect around the old Sutphen Mill church.

It was the last day we were to be there and I’d yet to explore church grounds. Deciding to skip supper in pursuit of treasure, I headed over and put the White’s metal detector to work. A couple of hours were wastefully spent pulling bits and pieces of discarded metal from the front lawn area. I placed the garbage into a bag I always carry. Dark clouds began to form and I was ready to pack up and leave. Kansas lightning will kill a fellow faster than any other.

Spotting an old limestone retaining wall near the rear of the structure, I decided to take one last stab at finding something of significance before electricity started flying. Ancient stone walls are notorious for hiding coins and tokens. Evidently people would sit or climb on them and lose valuables from their pockets in the process.

Within a few seconds I had a strong signal. My metal detector screamed like a wounded banshee indicating something of value was in the ground. The coin indicator showed it to be a silver quarter.

According to an attached depth meter, the object was near 8-inches down, directly beside the wall. It took several minutes of digging with thunder exploding over my head before I reached the booty. Spotting something dull and definitely metal, I excitedly pulled it out. The object appeared to be a chunk of aluminum. Brushing off dirt and grass I began seeing the distinct outline of a sewing thimble. The artifact was smashed flat from being in the ground so many years.

Hauling it to safe confines within my pants pocket, I was able to use a rounded dowel to bring things back to life. The thimble was definitely made of silver, yet it was not fancy like others I’d come across. There were no initials or jewels adorning the outside. A frugal farm lady most likely owned it.

My wife believes church women sat on that wall while sewing and talking. The area is still used for picnics and probably was back then. Evidently the thimble was accidentally dropped by one of them and it fell into a crack between wall and ground. It remained there quite a spell until I happened along.

Just like the glass piggy bank and gas tokens excavated from Wackly’s old farm, this thimble has no significant value where dollars are concerned. It does possess special meaning to me. My fingers were the first to touch it after it was lost.

It’s easy for me to visualize a Kansas pioneer using her thimble, needle, thread, and cloth to make all the family clothing; including Sunday dress for herself. I can also hear this terribly upset woman telling her weary husband late one evening as he crouched over cornbread and beans,

Honey, my birthday’s only a few days away. I could use a new thimble!”

Antique silver thimble

SAY WHAT?

“A true friend would discreetly tell John that he desperately needs a new, smartly styled hairpiece.”

In my research I often stumble across interesting stories. At the request of several friends eager to read something besides the negative news currently swirling around our county like a tornado, I’ve decided to share a few. Several newspapers from which these non-fiction or informational pieces came are no longer with us. All articles can legally be shared for educational purposes as long as I give credit to the periodical in which it originated. I’ll start out with 13 and add more as time allows. There are hundreds. Present times are indeed troubling and I sometimes forget the reason. Matthew 24: 6 – 14

“The Daily Chronicle” – February 17, 1932 – DeKalb, Illinois
“The Mansfield News and Wisconsin Hub” – March 19, 1914 – Mansfield, Wisconsin
“Press and Sun Bulletin – October 21, 1977 – Binghampton, New York
“The Knoxville News-Sentinel” – August 30, 1944 – Knoxville, Tennessee
“Poughkeepsie Eagle-News” – March 27, 1930 – Poughkeepsie, New York
“The Duncan Barrier” – January 12, 1960 – Duncan, Oklahoma
“The Baltimore Sun – July 28, 1905 – Baltimore, Maryland
“The Post-Star” – August 21, 1959 – Glens Falls, New York
“The Morning News” – June 27, 1949 – Wilmington, Delaware
“Buffalo Evening News” – December 27, 1898 – Buffalo, New York
“The Journal” – July 30, 1903 – Logan, Utah
“The Fort Wayne News” – November 15, 1901 – Fort Wayne, Indiana
“Leavenworth Post” – June 26, 1907 – Leavenworth, Kansas
“Muncie Evening Press” – June 24, 1965 – Muncie, Indiana=
“The Times” – January 13, 1889 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“Tampa Bay Times” – November 22, 2008 – St. Petersburg, Florida
“The Sedalia Democrat” – August 30, 1953 – Sedalia, Missouri
“The Selma Times-Journal” – October 9, 1936 – Selma, Alabama
“Dixon Evening Telegraph – May 12, 1954 – Dixon, Indiana
“The Daily Sentinel” – January 28, 1959 – Grand Junction, Colorado
“Knoxville Sentinel” – May 9, 1912 – Knoxville, Tennessee
“Argus-Leader – April 26, 1970 – Sioux Falls, South Dakota
“Longview Daily News” – June 23, 1995 – Longview, Washington
“The Times-Democrat” – May 6, 1996 – Orangeburg, South Carolina

HAVE NO FEAR

“Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

I recently wrote an article saying that it’s okay to have fear in your life. My life contains a good number of fears, which I view as nothing more than common sense reminders.

The majority of people reading my column understood what I was saying. Christian friends did for the most part, although one fellow thought it was contradictory to what the Bible teaches. This individual is a family member that I was trying to reach most. He does not seem to understand that there are two distinct types of fear.

Webster’s defines things this way:

1: An unpleasant often strong emotion caused by expectation or awareness of danger. 2: Concern about what may happen; worry of the unknown.

The family member I refer to believes that the Biblical definition covers both arenas.

Fear that I mention in my initial composition equates to Webster’s definition number one. Having fear of being in a swimming pool when an electrical storm suddenly appears is purely common sense. This fear tells you to get out, and get out quick.

Unfortunately, there are some believing have no fear means they can stay in the water, and regardless of the danger, God will always have their back. That doesn’t always work out. I could tell you story after story about foolish things people have done via the non-Biblical interpretation.

Here lately, we see these fearless ones (if you can call them that), continuing to go about their daily lives as if Covid-19 will never touch them. I call it Superman or Superwoman mentality.

In my town, bars and taverns fill up with patrons each evening, going against the professional advice of medical experts. Newspapers show groups of young people partying it up on local beaches. The Biblical principle of have no fear does not apply here.

Psalm 23:4 says: Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.

God tells us that as believers in Jesus Christ, we should not fear the unknown. This covers a lot of ground. If we practice specific medical guidelines handed down to us by infectious disease experts, he will lead us through this pandemic crisis. God does not instruct folks though, to go about their lives in a fearless and reckless manner.

In the 1990’s, there was a popular clothing line called, “No Fear”. Young people wore the company’s attire with pride including my son.

An attitude of having no fear back then was quite prevalent among teenagers; still is.

The owners of “No Fear” perfectly followed their namesake by making risky business deals. They eventually crashed and burned (bankruptcy).

Many young people from that era, now adults, have scars much like the defunct clothing manufacturer, showing where they crossed the line. Some of them still didn’t learn.

They’re still doing things contradictory to God’s definition of, have no fear!